On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
77°
Partly Cloudy
H 82° L 71°
  • cloudy-day
    77°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 71°
  • cloudy-day
    73°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 71°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    84°
    Afternoon
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 85° L 74°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Tech Science

    The shutdown of one of the nation's oldest nuclear power plants last year is having a surprising, stinging consequence for a New Jersey bay considered one of the nation's most fragile. The environmental group Save Barnegat Bay held a conference Wednesday where scientists noted the increase of tiny jellyfish near the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. The stinging sea nettles that had been sucked into the plant and killed by heated water are now thriving and multiplying. The influx has some worrying about swimming conditions in the area, while other say the plant closure should begin to restore conditions to where they were before the plant became operational in 1969. 'This is one of the unintended consequences' of the plant's shutdown, said Paul Bologna, a professor at Montclair State University known for his research on jellyfish. 'There are huge numbers of them out there now, substantially more than we had been seeing in 2018.' Bologna and others presented their findings at a three-day conference on Barnegat Bay organized by the environmental group. 'When I was a kid, we played in the bay all day long, so long that our skin was all pruned up,' said Britta Wenzel, Save Barnegat Bay's executive director. 'My kids had their first swimming experiences in the bay, and in a lot of places, you can't do that anymore.' The nuclear plant, which closed in Sept. 2018, had been altering conditions in the bay for decades, discharging water that was 10 degrees hotter than normal. Joe Bilinski, research scientist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the immediate effect of the plant shutdown is the beginning of a return to conditions in the bay that existed before the plant went online. 'Conditions are going back to what they were 50 years ago,' he said. 'It's starting to restore an equilibrium.' Environmentalists had long sought the closure of the plant, arguing that its heated discharge water harmed the bay. They also cited the large numbers of fish and turtles that got pinned against suction grates at the plant's water intake pipes, and the millions of fish and crab eggs that were killed by traveling through the water as it surged around the radioactive parts of the plant, picking up heat. But that same heat that killed the fish and crab eggs also did an effective job of killing tiny jellyfish polyps, Bologna said. Now, in the absence of heated water, those tiny jellyfish are surviving and thriving. The plant's heated water played a role in its shutdown. New Jersey environmental officials had wanted it to build closed-system cooling towers to eliminate the need to draw water from the creek to cool the plant, but its former owners balked, saying that would cost too much. Instead, they reached an agreement with the state to shut the plant down earlier than they had intended. So far the increased numbers of jellyfish are being found mainly in two locations near the former plant, in the Forked River section of Lacey Township, and in Toms River. But scientists say they expect the sea nettles to expand into parts of the bay and into other waterways. Fish and crab populations could benefit from the shutdown, even as species that were drawn to the warmer waters now leave the area. The plant used an almost unfathomable amount of water each day to cool its reactors: 1.4 billion gallons, Bilinski said. Now, only 5% of that amount circulates through the plant, and the artificial channel connecting the Forked River and the Oyster Creek is almost stagnant, 'like a lagoon,' Bilinski said. That means fish and turtles are no longer being trapped up against intake grates. But is also means that some species of fish that had been drawn to the warmer waters of the bay have now largely disappeared. Several long-term studies are underway measuring changes in and around the bay after the plant's shutdown. ___ Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC
  • The European Parliament on Wednesday blocked a diluted proposal by the 28-nation bloc's executive arm on protecting bees from pesticides, arguing it didn't go far enough.  European lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to 'table new legislation based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge.' They said the Commission weakened its initial proposal due to the opposition of 16 member states which did not want provisions in the draft on how pesticides should be tested to protect bees from chronic exposure. European lawmakers said the Commission only kept provisions protecting bees from acute exposure. The Commission's draft, they said, 'remains silent on chronic toxicity to honeybees, as well as on toxicity to bumble bees and solitary bees.' In their resolution adopted by 533 votes to 67 with 100 abstentions, they noted that the Commission's text 'would not change the level of protection' already in place and asked the Commission to come up with new proposals. Over recent years, there's been an alarming drop in bee populations, which has stoked fears of an ensuing impact on crop production given the central role of bees. According to figures released by the European Parliament, about 84% of crop species and 78% of wild flowers across the EU depend to some extent on animal pollination, and almost 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) of the bloc's annual agricultural output 'is directly attributed to insect pollinators.' Last year, the EU banned three prevalent neonicotinoid pesticides on all crops grown outdoors after scientific evidence showed their risks. Greenpeace praised the vote against the Commission's proposal. 'The new Parliament has shown that it's serious about protecting Europe's threatened pollinators,' said Greenpeace EU food policy director, Franziska Achterberg. She said the incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and her team can, like the Parliament, pass 'their first green test' and 'protect bees from dangerous pesticides.' The Commission decided earlier this week not to renew its approval for a fourth neonicotinoid pesticide known as thiacloprid.
  • After 34 years on the endangered species list, a tiny Midwestern bird is ready to fly free of federal protection. Once diminished by hunting for feathers for hats and hurt by the damming of major rivers like the Missouri, the interior least tern population has increased tenfold since 1985, to more than 18,000. The number of colonies has jumped from 48 to 480, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which on Wednesday proposed taking the bird off the list. The delisting started six years after the service first suggested that the species has recovered and after computer modeling showed the population will be stable. Even conservationists and advocacy groups that often battle the Trump administration over what goes on and off the endangered list hailed the migrating bird's recovery as an environmental success story. 'Delisting is reasonable,' Center for Biological Diversity endangered species director Noah Greenwald said. 'It shows that when we actually pay attention and care, we can help species and reverse damage we've done in the past. We can undo part of the damage we've done to these rivers.' American Bird Conservancy president Michael Parr said: 'All around it's a pretty good news situation.' After nearly being hunted to extinction for feathers for women's hats in the 1800s, the Midwestern population of least terns started doing better until after World War II, Fish and Wildlife Service recovery biologist Paul Hartfield said. But then dams, especially on the Missouri River, eliminated the riverside beaches that these tiny birds need. Working with the Army Corps of Engineers, biologists concentrated on a smaller bird population in the lower Mississippi River. Changes in water management increased the size of islands and created new ones in the river, making more places for the birds to nest and live, Hartfield said. 'The least tern in the Mississippi River exploded' from a few hundred birds in the 1980s to at least 10,000 now, he said. Greenwald credited the Army Corps of Engineers but added that 'the tern has been recovered, but the ecosystem hasn't.' There are three populations of least terns in the United States. One in California is still on the endangered list, and the eastern one is doing fine. Least terns are the smallest of terns, but they travel far. Hartfield said one bird was tagged in South Dakota and later was found in Japan. 'That's how strong a flyer they are,' he said. 'It's really a tough little bird.' They nest on the ground and feed on small fish and live quite long for their size, about 15 years, Hartfield said. These birds migrate every fall to the Caribbean and South America. Greenwald, of the Center for Biological Diversity, said the least tern is a good example of how the endangered species law can work even as scientists warn of 1 million species going extinct in coming decades. 'We should be proud of ourselves for caring for it and protecting it,' he said. 'That shows that if we put our mind to it, we can stop the extinction crisis.' ___ Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the number of colonies, not nests, has jumped from 48 to 480.
  • Switzerland is banning the practice of 'shredding' newly hatched male chicks, citing progress in techniques to determine chicks' gender in the egg. The government decided Wednesday that the ban will take effect Jan. 1. It said that, in recent years, the practice of putting live chicks through a lethal 'mechanical procedure' has been used by relatively few hatcheries. Killing them by using carbon dioxide will still be allowed. The government said that methods to determine chicks' gender in the egg are not yet widely available but several companies and universities are working hard to develop a 'commercial method.
  • Google announced Wednesday it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing, saying it has developed an experimental processor that took just minutes to complete a calculation that would take the world's best supercomputer thousands of years. The feat could open the door someday to machines so blazingly fast that they could revolutionize such tasks as finding new medicines, developing vastly smarter artificial intelligence systems and, most ominously, cracking the encryption that protects some of the world's most closely guarded secrets. Such practical uses are still probably decades away, scientists said. But the latest findings, published in the scientific journal Nature, show that 'quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws,' the researchers wrote. Big tech companies including Microsoft, IBM and Intel are avidly pursuing quantum computing, a new and somewhat bewildering technology for vastly sped-up information processing. While conventional computing relies on bits, or pieces of data that bear either a one or zero, quantum computing employs quantum bits, or qubits, that contain values of one and zero simultaneously. But quantum computing requires placing the fragile and volatile qubits in colder-than-outer-space-refrigerators to control them. Google's quantum processor looks like an upside-down garbage can, out of which comes a series of tubes used to conduct signals to a chip. The whole thing is stored in a cool chamber to protect the chip. Google said that its quantum processor, called Sycamore, finished a calculation in 3 minutes, 20 seconds — and that it would take the world's fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to do the same thing. The calculation was a random sampling problem, similar to looking at the various combinations that could come from dice or a gambling machine. It has little practical value, other than to test how well the processor works. 'The more interesting milestone will be a useful application,' said Chris Monroe, a University of Maryland physicist who is also the founder of quantum startup IonQ. Google's findings, however, faced pushback from other industry researchers. A version of Google's paper leaked online last month. IBM took issue with Google's claim that it had achieved 'quantum supremacy,' or the point when a quantum computer can perform a calculation that a traditional computer can't complete within its lifetime. IBM researchers said that its IBM-developed supercomputer, called Summit, could actually do the calculation in 2.5 days. Google disputed IBM's claims. Whether or not Google achieved 'quantum supremacy,' the research suggests the field is maturing. 'The quantum supremacy milestone allegedly achieved by Google is a pivotal step in the quest for practical quantum computers,' John Preskill, the Caltech professor who coined the term 'quantum supremacy,' wrote in a column after the paper was leaked. It means quantum computing research can enter a new stage, he wrote, though a significant effect on society 'may still be decades away.' One feared outcome — though experts said it is a long way off — is a computer powerful enough to break today's best cryptography. Quantum computers might also one day lead to the development of better artificial intelligence systems to guide financial portfolios, crop yields or transportation routes. The promise of such applications has attracted interest from the U.S., China and other governments. President Donald Trump last year signed a measure to spend more than $1.2 billion over five years for quantum research across the federal government. ___ O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.
  • The ozone hole near the south pole this year is the smallest since it was discovered, but it is more due to freakish Antarctic weather than efforts to cut down on pollution, NASA reported . This fall, the average hole in Earth's protective ozone layer is 3.6 million square miles (9.3 million square kilometers). That's down from a peak of 10.3 million square miles (26.6 million square kilometers) in 2006. This year's hole is even smaller than the one first discovered in 1985. 'That's really good news,' NASA scientist Paul Newman said Tuesday. 'That means more ozone over the hemisphere, less ultraviolet radiation at the surface.' Earth's ozone layer shields life on the surface from harmful solar radiation, but man-made chlorine compounds that can last in the air for 100 years nibble at the ozone, creating thinning and a gap over the Southern Hemisphere. The hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next spring in the Southern Hemisphere. The 1987 international Montreal Protocol — the only United Nations treaty ratified by every country on Earth — banned many of the chlorine compounds used in refrigerants and aerosols. The ban resulted in a slightly smaller ozone hole in recent years, but this year's dramatic shrinking isn't from those efforts, Newman said. 'It's just a fluke of the weather,' said University of Colorado atmospheric scientist Brian Toon. Chlorine in the air needs cold temperatures in the stratosphere and clouds to convert into a form of the chemical that eats ozone, Newman said. The clouds go away when it warms up. But this September and October, the southern polar vortex — which just like the northern one is a swirl of cold high-speed winds around the pole — started to break down. At 12 miles (20 kilometers) high in the atmosphere, temperatures were 29 degrees (16 degrees Celsius) warmer than average. Winds dropped from a normal 161 mph to about 67 mph (259 kph to 108 kph), NASA reported. This is something that happens on occasion, occurring in 1988 and 2002, but not this extreme, Newman said. 'We got a little bennie (benefit) this year,' he said. ___ Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Climate change is making stronger El Ninos, which change weather worldwide and heat up an already warming planet, a new study finds. Scientists examined 33 El Ninos — natural warming of equatorial Pacific that triggers weather extremes across the globe — since 1901. They found since the 1970s, El Ninos have been forming farther to the west in warmer waters, leading to stronger El Ninos in some cases. A powerful El Nino can trigger drought in some places, like Australia and India. And it can cause flooding in other areas like California. The Pacific gets more hurricanes during an El Nino and the Atlantic gets fewer. El Nino makes winters milder and wetter in the United States, which generally benefits from strong El Ninos. They're devastating elsewhere. The 1997-98 event caused thousands of deaths from severe storms, heat waves, floods and drought, costing between $32 billion and $96 billion, according to a United Nations study . The shift for the origin of El Nino by hundreds of miles from the east of the International Dateline to the west of that point is important because the water to the west is naturally warmer, said study lead author Bin Wang, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Hawaii. Before 1978, 12 of the 14 El Ninos formed in the east. After 1978, all 11 were more central or western, according a study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Researchers did not study La Ninas, the cooler flip side to El Nino. Wang said there have been three 'super' El Ninos, starting in 1982, 1997 and 2015 and all started in the west. During each of those El Ninos, the world broke new average temperature records. The study adds to growing evidence that 'El Nino events are becoming stronger under continued climate change,' Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb, who wasn't part of the research, said in an email. Florida State University El Nino expert Allan Clarke, however, said the study focused too much on water temperature, when so much of El Nino formation depends on how water and the atmosphere are interconnected. ___ Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • The astronauts who took part in the first all-female spacewalk are still uplifted by all the excitement down on Earth. International Space Station resident Jessica Meir said Monday that when she floated outside last week, she wasn't thinking about whether she was going out with a man or woman because everyone is held to the same standard. Nonetheless, she said it was extra special being accompanied by Christina Koch, a close friend. Koch said knowing so many were so excited about two women spacewalking together 'just added to the moment.' It was 'uplifting,' she said, to have the opportunity to inspire future explorers. They don't know when they might go out together again, perhaps in coming weeks or months for more battery work. 'Hopefully it will become commonplace and it won't even necessarily be something that's a big deal down the road,' Koch said. Until Friday, every spacewalk since the first in 1965 involved at least one man. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, meanwhile, hailed the 'unmanned' spacewalk and noted the social media attention was tremendous. 'Wait until we land the first woman on the south pole of the moon,' Bridenstine said during the opening of the International Astronautical Congress in Washington. NASA is shooting for 2024 for the first lunar landing by astronauts since 1972. During a news conference from orbit, Koch said she's pleased that some outdated phrases — manned spaceflight, unmanned rockets — are being replaced. 'Even though that language is meant to represent all of humanity, it does conjure up images of men being the main participants,' she told reporters. 'So I've been happy to see instances of people, human, humankind, things like that being introduced. So I just continue to use that language myself and to encourage its use in others.' ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • The Trump administration is planning to collect DNA samples from asylum-seekers and other migrants detained by immigration officials and will add the information to a massive FBI database used by law enforcement hunting for criminals, a Justice Department official said. The Justice Department on Monday issued amended regulations that would mandate DNA collection for almost all migrants who cross between official entry points and are held even temporarily. The official said the rules would not apply to legal permanent residents or anyone entering the U.S. legally, and children under 14 are exempt, but it's unclear whether asylum-seekers who come through official crossings will be exempt. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity before the regulations were published. Homeland Security officials gave a broad outline of the plan to expand DNA collection at the border two weeks ago, but it was unclear then whether asylum-seekers would be included or when it would begin. The new policy would allow the government to amass a trove of biometric data on hundreds of thousands of migrants, raising major privacy concerns and questions about whether such data should be compelled even when a person is not suspected of a crime other than crossing the border illegally. Civil rights groups already have expressed concerns that data could be misused, and the new policy is likely to lead to legal action. Justice officials hope to have a pilot program in place shortly after the 20-day comment period ends and expand from there, the official said. The new regulations are effective Tuesday. Trump administration officials say they hope to solve more crimes committed by immigrants through the increased collection of DNA from a group that can often slip through the cracks. The Justice official also said it would be a deterrent — the latest step aimed at discouraging migrants from trying to enter the United States between official crossings by adding hurdles to the immigration process. Currently, officials collect DNA on a much more limited basis — when a migrant is prosecuted in federal court for a criminal offense. That includes illegal crossing, a charge that has affected mostly single adults. Those accompanied by children generally aren't prosecuted because children can't be detained. President Donald Trump and others in his administration often single out crimes committed by immigrants as a reason for stricter border control. But multiple studies have found that people in the United States illegally are less likely to commit crime than U.S. citizens, and legal immigrants are even less likely to do so. For example, a study last year in the journal Criminology found that from 1990 through 2014, states with bigger shares of migrants have lower crime rates. Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Libertarian think tank Cato Institute, which has also studied the issue, said it was unnecessary. 'Fingerprints and current biometrics are more than sufficient to identify criminals and keep them out of the United States. Collecting DNA is expensive, will be done poorly, and doesn't make Americans any safer,' he said. Immigrant rights advocates were immediately critical. 'This proposed change in policy is ... transparently xenophobic in its intention,' said American Civil Liberties Union senior policy and advocacy attorney Naureen Shah. 'It seeks to miscast these individuals, many of whom are seeking a better life or safety, as threats to the country's security.' Curbing immigration is Trump's signature issue, but his administration has struggled in dealing with the surge of people trying to enter the United States, mostly Central American families fleeing poverty and violence. Authorities made more than 810,000 arrests at the border during the budget year that just ended in September, a high not seen for more than 10 years. Officials say numbers have since fallen following crackdowns, changes in asylum regulations and agreements with Central American countries, but they remain higher than in previous years. DNA profile collection is allowed under a law expanded in 2009 to require that any adult arrested for a federal crime provide a DNA sample. At least 23 states require DNA testing, but some occur after a suspect is convicted of a crime. The FBI database, known as the Combined DNA Index System, has nearly 14 million convicted offender profiles, plus 3.6 million arrestee profiles, and 966,782 forensic profiles as of August 2019. The profiles in the database do not contain names or other personal identifiers to protect privacy; only an agency identifier, specimen identification number and DNA lab associated with the analysis. That way, when people aren't a match, their identification isn't exposed. The only way to get a profile out of the system is to request through an attorney that it be removed. Federal and state investigators use the system to match DNA in crimes they are trying to solve. As of August 2019, the database produced about 480,000 hits, or matches with law enforcement seeking crime scene data, and assisted in more than 469,000 investigations. Justice Department officials are striking a line in the regulations that gave the secretary of Homeland Security discretion to opt out of collecting DNA from immigrants because of resource limitations or operational hurdles. Justice and Homeland Security officials are still working out details, but cheek swab kits would be provided by the FBI, the official said. The FBI will help train border officials on how to get a sample, which shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Customs and Border Protection already collects fingerprints on everyone over 14 in its custody. The new regulations will apply to adults who cross the border illegally and are briefly detained by Customs and Border Protection, or for a longer period by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those who come to official crossings and are considered inadmissible and not further detained will be exempt. Other exceptions are being worked out, the official said. More than 51,000 detainees are in ICE custody. Border Patrol custody fluctuates its facilities only hold migrants until they are processed and either released or sent to ICE custody. At the height, more than 19,000 people were held. Recently it was down to fewer than 4,000. The Justice Department charged the highest number of immigration-related offenses last year since the office began keeping the records: 25,426 with felony illegal re-entry and 80,866 with misdemeanor improper entry into the country.
  • Some of the people rushing to emergency rooms thought the CBD vape they inhaled would help like a gentle medicine. Others puffed it for fun. What the vapors delivered instead was a jolt of synthetic marijuana, and with it an intense high of hallucinations and even seizures. More than 50 people around Salt Lake City had been poisoned by the time the outbreak ended early last year, most by a vape called Yolo! — the acronym for 'you only live once.' In recent months, hundreds of vape users have developed mysterious lung illnesses, and more than 30 have died. Yolo was different. Users knew immediately something was wrong. Who was responsible for Yolo? Public health officials and criminal investigators couldn't figure that out. Just as it seemed to appear from nowhere, Yolo faded away with little trace. As part of an investigation into the illegal spiking of CBD vapes that are not supposed to have any psychoactive effect at all, The Associated Press sought to understand the story behind Yolo. The trail led to a Southern California beach town and an entrepreneur whose vaping habit prompted a career change that took her from Hollywood parties to federal court in Manhattan. When Janell Thompson moved from Utah to the San Diego area in 2010, the roommate she found online also vaped. Thompson had a background in financial services and the two decided to turn their shared interest into a business, founding an e-cigarette company called Hookahzz. There were early successes. Thompson and her partner handed out Hookahzz products at an Emmy Awards pre-party, and their CBD vapes were included in Oscar nominee gift bags in 2014. In a video shot at a trade show, an industry insider described the two women as 'the divas of CBD.' Indeed, Hookahzz was among the first companies to sell vapes that delivered CBD, as the cannabis extract cannabidiol is known. Now a popular ingredient in products from skin creams to gummy bears, cannabidiol was at that time little known and illegal in some states. The partners started other brands that offered CBD capsules and edibles, as well as products for pets. Part of Thompson's pitch was that CBD helped treat her dog's tumors. By autumn 2017, Thompson and her partner formed another company, Mathco Health Corporation. Within a few months, Yolo spiked with synthetic marijuana — commonly known as K2 or spice — began appearing on store shelves around Salt Lake City. Synthetic marijuana is manmade and can be manufactured for a fraction of the price of CBD, which is typically extracted from industrial hemp that must be farmed. Samples tested at Utah labs showed Yolo contained a synthetic marijuana blamed for at least 11 deaths in Europe — and no CBD at all. Authorities believed that some people sought out Yolo because they wanted to get high, while others unwittingly ingested a dangerous drug. What authorities didn't understand was its source. Investigators with Utah's State Bureau of Investigation visited vape stores that sold Yolo, but nobody would talk. The packaging provided no contact information. By May 2018, the case was cold. But it was not dead. That summer, a former Mathco bookkeeper who was preparing to file a workplace retaliation complaint began collecting evidence of what she viewed as bad business practices. During her research, Tatianna Gustafson saw online pictures showing that Yolo was the main culprit in the Utah poisonings, according to the complaint she filed against Mathco with California's Department of Industrial Relations. Gustafson wrote that while at Mathco she was concerned about how Yolo was produced, that it was excluded from Mathco's promotional material and that the 'labels had no ingredients or contact listing.' Justin Davis, another former Mathco employee, told AP that 'the profit margins were larger' for Yolo than other products. Gustafson's complaint asserted that Mathco or JK Wholesale, another of the companies that Thompson and her partner incorporated, mixed and distributed Yolo. Financial records in the complaint show Thompson's initials as the main salesperson for Yolo transactions, including with a company in Utah. The records also show Yolo was sold in at least six other states, including to an address in South Carolina where a college student said he vaped a cartridge that sent him into a coma. The former bookkeeper also tipped the Utah Poison Control Center about who she believed was behind Yolo, according to her complaint. Barbara Crouch, the poison center's executive director, recalled getting a tip in late 2018 and passing it along to the State Bureau of Investigation. SBI agent Christopher Elsholz talked to the tipster, who told him she believed the company she had worked for distributed Yolo. Elsholz said the company was in California and therefore out of his jurisdiction, so he passed the tip to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA offered to help but took no law enforcement action, spokeswoman Mary Brandenberger said. Spiked CBD is a low priority for an agency dealing with bigger problems such as the opioid epidemic, which has killed tens of thousands of people. In the end, it wasn't the synthetic marijuana compound in Yolo from Utah that caught up with Thompson. It was another kind of synthetic added to different brands. By the time of the Utah poisonings, vapes labeled as Black Magic and Black Diamond had sickened more than 40 people in North Carolina, including high school students and military service members. Investigators were able to connect Thompson to that outbreak in part based on a guilty plea from the distributor of the spiked vapes, who said a woman that authorities identified as Thompson supplied the liquid that went into them. Prosecutors also linked her to dealers charged in New York, where she pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to distribute synthetic marijuana and a money laundering charge. The only brand federal prosecutors cited was Yolo. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman called Thompson a 'drug trafficker' who used JK Wholesale to distribute 'massive quantities' of synthetic marijuana as far back as 2014. She faces up to 40 years in prison. Reached by phone the week before she pleaded guilty, Thompson declined to discuss Yolo and then hung up. In a subsequent text message, Thompson said not to call her and referred questions to her lawyer, who did not respond to requests for comment. While Yolo was Thompson's project and she was the exclusive salesperson, her business partner and former roommate was involved in its production, according to the workplace retaliation complaint. Thompson's business partner and former roommate, Katarina Maloney, distanced herself from Thompson and Yolo during an August interview at Mathco's headquarters in Carlsbad, California. Maloney has not been charged in the federal investigation. 'To tell you the truth, that was my business partner,' Maloney said of Yolo. She said Thompson was no longer her partner and she didn't want to discuss it. In a follow-up email, Maloney asserted the Yolo in Utah 'was not purchased from us,' without elaborating. 'Mathco Health Corporation or any of its subsidiary companies do not engage in the manufacture or sale of illegal products,' she wrote. 'When products leave our facility, they are 100% compliant with all laws.' Maloney also said all products are lab tested. She did not respond to requests for Yolo lab results. ___ This version corrects the name of the agency that received the tip, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, not U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.